Bay Roberts teen grabs na­tional gold medal

Bay Roberts teen wins na­tional blind hockey gold medal

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Bay Roberts res­i­dent Dy­lan Brad­bury re­cently re­turned home from an ex­cit­ing trip to Toronto, Ont. As a mem­ber of the Team At­lantic blind hockey team, Dy­lan brought back a gold medal from the 2016 Cana­dian Blind Hockey Tour­na­ment. It’s an an­nual com­pe­ti­tion he re­ally looks for­ward to.

He’s com­fort­able with them. It’s in­clu­sive. It’s the way sports is sup­posed to be. Amanda Brad­bury

There was un­fin­ished busi­ness for Dy­lan Brad­bury and Team At­lantic head­ing into the 2016 Cana­dian Blind Hockey Cham­pi­onships.

The pre­vi­ous year, the team fell in the gold medal game of the hotly con­tested tour­na­ment and was forced to set­tle for a sil­ver medal.

That left the 17-year-old Bay Roberts res­i­dent and his team­mates look­ing for a sliver of re­demp­tion when they trav­eled to Toronto, Ont. for the tour­na­ment, held March 11-13.

Af­ter two days of fierce com­pe­ti­tion, the third day bore re­sults for Team At­lantic and Brad­bury, the team’s only rep­re­sen­ta­tive from New­found­land and Labrador.

They de­feated Cen­tral 7-2 to claim the gold medal. Re­demp­tion had been served.

“It feels good to get the gold,” he told The Com­pass last week. “All I know is that I like it.”

The games were played at Ry­er­son’s Mat­tamy Ath­letic Cen­tre at the Gar­dens, for­merly the famed Maple Leaf Gar­dens. It’s the same place Dar­ryl Sit­tler, Wen­dell Clark, Doug Gil­mour, Mats Sundin and the likes played till the Air Canada Cen­tre opened in 1999.

A Leafs fan him­self, this added some­thing a lit­tle ex­tra for Dy­lan. “That was pretty cool,” he said. Of course, nab­bing a na­tional ti­tle is cool and ev­ery­thing. But get­ting that hon­our in front of fam­ily and friends is some­thing else al­to­gether. With his mother Amanda in the stands, Team At- lan­tic pro­vided thrill af­ter thrill for sup­port­ers. She lept out of her seat on ev­ery goal and her voice was prob­a­bly heard re­ver­ber­at­ing through­out the fa­cil­ity.

“We’re very proud. It’s amaz­ing,” said Amanda. “I get emo­tional think­ing about it.”

Like the pros

For the ath­letes par­tic­i­pat­ing in the tour­na­ment, it’s like be­ing in the pro­fes­sional ranks for the week­end.

Dy­lan and his mates stayed at the Hol­i­day Inn ad­ja­cent to the rink. When it was time to head there, they’d go strap their gear on and hit the ice.

When the game was over, it’d be team ac­tiv­i­ties and the like. There was some fam­ily time sprin­kled in too. Even the flight up was semi-pro­fes­sional.

Dy­lan shared a plane with the Bing­ham­ton Sen­a­tors, the farm team of the Ottawa Sen­a­tors, as they left St. John’s.

Each trip to the na­tional tour­na­ment is spe­cial for Dy­lan. It means get­ting back on the ice for the first time in al­most a year.

He used to play mi­nor hockey in Bay Roberts, but the sport be­came too quick for him when he hit the midget level.

“It took me a lit­tle while to get used to it,” said Dy­lan. “I took one spin around and knew I needed my skates sharp­ened.”

It also means he gets to re­unite with friends and team­mates he’s missed. Dy­lan gets to im­merse him­self in a com­mu­nity that he doesn’t nor­mally get to ex­pe­ri­ence in his home prov­ince.

“That’s the best part,” Dy­lan said of hang­ing out in Toronto with team­mates.

“He’s com­fort­able with them,” added Amanda. “It’s in­clu­sive. It’s the way sports is sup­posed to be.”

NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

Bay Roberts res­i­dent Dy­lan Brad­bury proudly chomps down on his gold medal from the 2016 Cana­dian Blind Hockey Cham­pi­onships held in Toronto March 11-13.

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